Africa Media Review for April 25, 2017

Rwandans Carry On, Side by Side, Two Decades After Genocide
They awoke early and gathered along a plot of land here in this Rwandan village made up of a handful of homes. Together, they began hacking away at a grass-bare patch with long-handled garden hoes. The mission: Dig a drainage ditch alongside a row of homes that had been continuously flooding during rains. Scenes like this one were playing out across Rwanda on this Saturday — a monthly day of service known as Umuganda. The premise is simple and extraordinary in its efficient enforcement: Every able-bodied Rwandan citizen between the ages of 18 and 65 must take part in community service for three hours once a month. The community identifies a new public works problem to tackle each month. “We never had Umuganda before the genocide,” said Jean Baptiste Kwizera, 21, wiping sweat from his brow as he took a break from the project here in Mbyo, about an hour’s drive from Kigali, the capital. The New York Times

Nigeria Shows Off New Air Assets for Boko Haram Fight
Nigeria’s air force has shown off new assets it says will be used to combat the Boko Haram insurgency in its north and oil militants in its south. The West African nation’s air force over the weekend demonstrated a new attack helicopter during 53rd anniversary celebrations. The chief of defense staff, Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, says the military now can “deliver appropriate firepower at the right time and at the right place.” The military also expects that the Trump administration will move forward with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram despite concerns over abuses committed by the African nation’s security forces. AP

USARAF Hosts New Exercise to Tackle Boko Haram at Operational Level
Two months after U.S. Africa Command sent a contingent of special operations forces for tactical training with African troops in areas threatened by Boko Haram militants, U.S. Army Africa is set to take training there to the operational level. During five days in Cameroon that began on Monday, USARAF’s inaugural Unified Focus exercise is calling upon some 100 field-grade officers, civilian officials and aid-group representatives to consider how to react to plausible crises in the Lake Chad Basin region. The region, encompassing parts of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, has been the scene of attacks by Boko Haram and clashes with security forces. In the past eight, the years, the conflict has killed an estimated 200,000, forced more than 3 million to flee for their lives and laid waste to formerly fertile lands. Stars and Stripes

Cameroon Military Tribunal Sentences RFI Journalist to 10 Years
A Cameroon military tribunal sentenced Radio France International’s Hausa service journalist Ahmed Abba to 10 years in prison for “non-denunciation of terrorism” and “laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts”. He was also fined 55,726,325 CFA francs (over $90,000) or face five extra years in prison in default of payment. Abba’s sentencing on Monday evening (1730 GMT) comes after he was convicted last Friday on the charges. His lawyer, Clement Nakong said they will appeal the sentencing on Tuesday. Africa News

UN ‘Horrified’ by Video Showing Killing of Experts in DR Congo
The United Nations said on Monday it was horrified by a video screened by the government of Democratic Republic of Congo that appeared to show the brutal killing of two U.N. investigators. Congo’s government showed the film to reporters in Kinshasa on Monday, saying it showed members of an anti-government militia carrying out the act. Government spokesman Lambert Mende did not explain how authorities obtained the video, but said they were showing it to rebuff suggestions that Congo authorities were complicit in the killings. Africa News

Sudan Accuses South Sudan President of Meeting Rebels
Sudan on Monday warned South Sudan to cease its support of rebel groups at war with Khartoum, accusing its president of meeting with rebels last week in a rare public statement from Khartoum’s intelligence agency. Sudan regularly accuses its neighbour of backing insurgents in the Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions that run along its southern border. South Sudan split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war fuelled by ethnic divides and disputes over oil. Monday’s statement was exceptional for pinning blame directly on South Sudan’s president, potentially suggesting an escalation of tension between the neighbouring states. Reuters

Uganda and S. Sudan Agree on Border Demarcation Plan
Uganda and South Sudan have agreed on a blueprint for redrawing their common border. The deal is expected to end the long-simmering border conflicts. A joint technical committee from the two countries on Friday concluded a three-day meeting for the “delimitation and demarcation” of the border in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a process facilitated and to be overseen by the African Union, the 55-member continental body. The meeting, according to Ms Margaret Kafeero, the head of public diplomacy in Uganda’s ministry of Foreign Affairs, “discussed the technical, logistical and security requirements that will need to be availed before” the exercise to delineate the 470km boundary stretch commences. The East African

Smugglers Become a Lifeline for the Starving in South Sudan
[…] As South Sudan enters its fourth year of civil war, over half of the country’s population has become reliant on humanitarian aid. Here in the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, thousands face starvation. With drought, soaring inflation and severe access challenges, hundreds of communities in this corner of the country now depend on their northern neighbor to feed their families. “We’re lacking 200,000 metric tons of food,” says James Maywien Aror, the relief and rehabilitation commissioner for Aweil East in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. “If the smugglers can make it into South Sudan we’re happy to have them.” Once they cross the border, Aror says, there are no issues. For the smugglers, however, it takes stealth and vigilance to make it safely through Sudan. “I take back streets until I cross over,” Mohammed says. In order to evade the Sudanese army, he drives overnight, navigating roads through thick forest and relying on a vast network of villagers to guide him. If he gets caught he’ll have to pay a 15,000-Sudanese-pound ($2,200) fine. If he refuses to pay, his goods will be confiscated, leaving him in severe debt. The Washington Post

Egypt Sentences 20 to Death over Police Killings
An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced 20 people to death for the killing of 13 policemen in the aftermath of the ouster nearly four years ago of Islamist President Mohamed Morsy. On August 14, 2013, a month after Morsy was overthrown by the army, security forces forcibly dispersed two pro-Morsy protest camps in Cairo in an operation that killed more than 700 people. Hours later a furious crowd attacked a police station in the Cairo suburb of Kerdassa, where 13 policemen were killed. The East African

Warring Cousins, a Grisly Execution: A Tunisian Family Torn Apart by ISIS
[…] In the mountains of western Tunisia, radical Islamists are spreading their ideology, cowing villagers with brute violence and dividing families. American-trained Tunisian soldiers are battling them, but the militants are formidable opponents. The struggle lays bare the Islamic State’s aspirations as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria, security officials and analysts say. The militants are searching for new safe havens and areas to control, as well as sow chaos. They are also fortifying existing footholds to expand their reach and fallback options. In Egypt, Islamic State militants are staging devastating attacks on minority Christians. In Algeria and the Sahel region, new Islamic State affiliates have emerged. And after losing its Libyan stronghold of Sirte in December, the Islamic State is trying to regroup in southern Libya, and potentially in Tunisia and other neighboring countries, U.S. military and intelligence officials say. “The instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to U.S. and allies’ interests on the continent,” Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, head of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month. The Washington Post

Malta Suggests Cash Solution to End EU Migration Row
European Union governments could get 60,000 euros for each asylum-seeker they take in above their quota, or chose to pay that amount if they fall below their share, Malta proposed, in a bid to end a row over migration that has sharply divided Europe. Tiny Malta, where migrants land after crossing the Mediterranean, hopes to persuade eastern European countries to end their refusal to take in asylum-seekers under a system aimed at relieving the pressure on the southern frontline states. With anti-immigration sentiment boosting nationalists in elections across the bloc, and Britain’s decision to quit the EU, dealing with the unprecedented wave of people fleeing the Middle East and Africa is vital to the EU’s future. The proposal from Malta, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will be discussed by EU states’ representatives in Brussels on Wednesday. Reuters

Angola’s Presidential Council Proposes Aug. 23 for National Vote
Angola’s Council of the Republic, a presidential group that consults on national decisions, has proposed Aug. 23 for a national election, state radio reported on Monday, a decision which hangs on President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ approval. Dos Santos, 74, will step down as president after 38 years at the helm but will retain control of the powerful ruling MPLA party. He is Africa’s second longest-ruling leader and said in February he will not run in this year’s presidential election. The MPLA chose Defence Minister Joao Lourenco, 63, as its presidential candidate last December. Reuters

Kenyan Ruling Party Reattempts Primary Elections After Chaos
Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party will try again to select candidates for August elections after abandoning a chaotic process last week that analysts said may be a harbinger of upheaval during the national vote. The process that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party began on April 21 will restart Monday after being marred by inadequate ballot papers, violent stand-offs and allegations of rigging, Kenyan newspapers including the Nairobi-based Daily Nation reported. Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement also last week rescheduled its primaries for similar reasons. Bloomberg

Kenya’s History of Election Violence is Threatening to Repeat Itself
In the last few weeks Kenya has seen an increase in intra-party political violence following the start of its political party primaries that began on April 13th and are scheduled to run for two weeks. The primaries are “mini-polls” held by political parties to choose which candidates will vie for seats in the general election that will be held on August 8th. The focus has been on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which was the first party to begin the nomination process. The ODM was formed in 2007 and is one of Kenya’s main political parties. Since the start of the ODM primaries chaos has continued to mar the process. The worst cases of political violence were witnessed in Migori in south-western Kenya and Ruaraka in Nairobi. In both cases violence between rival camps led to injuries. Mail and Guardian

Kenya’s Hunger Crisis Fuelled by History of Rural Neglect
It is late afternoon in a small settlement in Kakuma, Turkurna County, northwestern Kenya. Many of the residents have red, glazed-over eyes and the smell of home-made alcohol lingers in the air. The people who live here in the huts built of branches, animal hide and plastic sheeting belong to the Turkana community. Because of the drought they have abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and have settled next to the Kakuma refugee camp where the United Nations gives sanctuary to some 180,000 people. The refugees in the camp come from South Sudan or Somalia, Kenya’s crisis-ridden neighbors, where war and drought have brought hunger and deprivation. In the small run-down settlement near the camp, Kenyans like Ekiru Elimlim also want help from the UN. “We should be getting the same aid as the refugees. We also need food, water and jobs. These refugees are living here on our land and we should be compensated accordingly,” he said. Deutsche Welle

South Africa VP Backs Probe into Presidential Corruption Allegations
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said he wants allegations of influence-peddling in government investigated, lending his support to a probe called for by the anti-graft watchdog but which President Jacob Zuma has so far ignored. Ramaphosa is considered a likely candidate for president when the ruling African National Congress elects its new leaders later this year, but he has not formally announced his intention to stand. The nation’s Public Protector in November called on Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry within 30 days to examine alleged “state capture” in his government, but Zuma has not yet appointed a commission, challenging the report in court instead. Africa News

S. Africa’s Ruling Party Proposes Organizational Changes, Underscores Discipline
South Africa’s ruling party, African National Congress (ANC), has proposed various organizational changes aimed at making the party operate efficiently. At a media briefing in Johannesburg on Sunday, Fikile Mbalula, chairperson of ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) Subcommittee on Organizational Development said, the ANC would like to elect capable leadership who are disciplined and are well-groomed to serve the organization and the masses. According to the chairperson, the party proposed a program of political education training, and they have been sending some of its senior cadres to political education schools in China. The party also proposes to reduce the number of the NEC members to a manageable size. The ANC currently have 86 NEC members. Xinhua

Somalia Executes 4 Linked to 2016 Baidoa Blasts
Authorities in southwestern Somalia have executed four al-Shabab militants convicted of carrying out explosions that killed some 80 people. The men had been sentenced to death in February by a Somali military court in the city of Baidoa, 240 kilometers southwest of the capital, Mogadishu. Reading the execution order Monday, the court’s deputy general attorney, Mumin Husein Abdullahi, said the men were behind simultaneous blasts that targeted two Baidoa restaurants in February 2016. “Following convictions with clear and concrete evidence, the court orders the implementation of the death sentences,” he announced.” VOA

Outspoken Emir of Kano Faces Corruption Probe over ‘Financial Misconduct’
The Kano Emirate has been summoned by the anti-corruption agency in the northern Nigerian State over the expenditure of the outspoken and one of the country’s most powerful leaders Emir Muhammad Sanusi II after his appointment in 2014. The head of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Muhyi Magaji said on Monday that they are investigating complaints of “questionable expenditures and financial misappropriations”. The exact amount of money was not mentioned but local Nigerian media had speculated an amount that the Emirate debunked immediately at a press conference. The senior council official in charge of finance for the Kano State Emirate Council and also the Walin Kano, Bashir Wali said the emirate had only spent N3.4 billion ($11,127,520) since Sanusi emerged Emir in June 2014. Africa News

Kenya, Ghana, Malawi Chosen for Breakthrough Malaria Vaccine Trial
The World Health Organization has announced that trials of a new malaria vaccine will take place in three African countries – Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. They have been selected for their high prevalence of malaria and strong existing immunization programs for other diseases. The announcement was made ahead of the U.N.’s World Malaria Day Tuesday – and the chosen theme for this year is ‘a push for prevention’. Malaria remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases – killing close to half a million people every year, mostly in Africa. So the testing of a new vaccine called RTSS has been greeted as a great step forward. It’s hoped that 360,000 children will be vaccinated between 2018 and 2020 in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. The World Health Organization’s Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti made the announcement Monday in Nairobi. VOA

Zimbabwe: What Britain and the West Did – and Didn’t – Do During the Matabeleland Massacres of 1983-4
Along a post-independence fabric liberally blotted with death and suffering, the Matabeleland killings of 1983-4 remain Zimbabwe’s most glaring. Thousands of Ndebele civilians were murdered and maimed by Mugabe’s North Korean-trained 5th Brigade in a campaign ostensibly aimed at stamping out an insurgent threat. Though they occurred more than 30 years ago, the massacres continue to shape the country’s politics, playing – among other things – an important part in Mugabe’s stubborn unwillingness to relinquish power. Yet what of the role of Britain and the West during the killings? Britain had overseen a decolonisation process in 1979-80 and was heavily involved in Zimbabwe, politically, economically and militarily, as were a group of Western countries that had arrived on Britain’s coat tails. They were generally well informed and were in a position to exert some influence. So how much did they know about the 5th Brigade’s violence – and what did they do about it? Answers to this question have been coloured by bitterness, conspiracism and a lack of data. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones